If I’m not mistaken, 2019 will mark Get The Blessing’s twentieth anniversary, a milestone well worth celebrating. No wonder they look and sound comfortable in their collective skin.
They launched Bristopia back in October at the Wardrobe Theatre in Bristol, scuttling onto stage to warm cheers and launching straight into a trademark squelching, funky riff, Jim Barr’s bass locked into a visceral throb with the unstoppable momentum of Clive Deamer’s drums. If there are some familiar building blocks to the GTB sound, somehow they never get old. They re-invent, develop, mix it up; Bristopia is no exception. The pulse might launch from any corner; beaters on toms with a ticking hi-hat (Sunwise), a fat bari-sax riff (Cellophant), dirty bass and skittering drums (If It Can It Will). Sometimes the overlay is electronica and distortion, instruments disguised; was that Pete Judge‘s trumpet or a wail of despair from somewhere stage left? Elephant or trumpet blast on Cellophant? Jake McMurchie‘s saxophone or wild, garbled protest at the end of Tuathal? There’s always a hook (or two); connecting ideas and and space for improvisation to build tension and excitement;moments of delicacy, thoughtfulness.
It’s a potent brew with that driving, energising pulse never far below the surface. GTB are on great form and their uninhibited, inventive selves on this fine album.
Elsewhere, I’ve been musing on ‘sounding like where you come from‘ a bit, so was naturally tempted to put GTB through my version of that filter. Locating them in a ‘punk-jazz meets Bristol sound’ box feels far to glib, not least because most of GTB are long-term Bristol residents, but ‘from’ elsewhere. More than anything, to my ears, they sound like themselves. It’s music that has a glint of irony in its eye, not above coded (or not so coded) jokes (on themselves) and done with total seriousness, commitment (and love?). And a brilliant live show as festivals around Europe and occasionally farther afield know well. They sound subversively, joyfully English to me.
Chances to see them in Bristol/ Bath area are fairly rare and in 2019 they are off round Europe again. So the pop-up festival in Bath Jan 4th-6th seems to good an opportunity to miss. Get The Blessing play on Saturday evening (Jan 5th)